The way you live matters more than the way you vote.
Our civic responsibilities extend far beyond the couple of seconds it takes to cast a ballot. This is especially true for Christians because we connect exercising our civic duties to our obedience to God. But as with everything that truly matters, it is easy to mistake passion for wisdom, causing us to forget that being a Christian has a lot more to do with how we live every day than how we vote once every four years.
I’ve decided to post occasional ‘Civic Virtue’ posts throughout this election season, emphasizing civic virtue over civic duty. My hope is that wisdom will motivate us to move slower than knee-jerk, think deeper than slogans, and sacrifice more than the time it takes to fill in a ballot.
CIVIC VIRTUE # 1:
The way we talk about all the candidates demonstrates our faith more than which candidate we pick in the booth.
With the presidential election looming, my inbox and newsfeed have absorbed their typical influx of political forwards, captioned pictures, memes, and videos. It’s not the extra conversation that bothers me–it’s that so few of them have any basis in truth. Don’t get me wrong–I fully expect this from the political sector. I don’t even bat an eye when I hear one side make asinine accusations about birth certificates, or when the other side spews tax evasion charges like shotgun pellets, without bothering with pesky details like evidence. We all understand that anyone who tells us to expect integrity from a politician in an election year is selling something.
But if the only standard we hold ourselves to is that of our politicians, then it’s probably time to rethink our decision-making paradigm.
According to Proverbs, we make fools of ourselves when we resort to gossip and slander to make the case for how to vote Christianly. Even more significantly, Paul viewed gossip as one of the marks of being full of wickedness and depravity.
Does our life reveal us to be fools? Or disciples?
We all know what I’m talking about. We’ve all read the emails, smirked at the memes, clicked on the videos. We’ve all experienced the recent uptick in vitriol (and I’m referring to those who belong to the Way, not politicians). Not only do we know, but we’re also not surprised because we’ve been doing this for a long time. (Remember Vince Foster and the Clinton Chronicles?) Sadly, we often get absolutely bizarre, refusing to be boxed in by politics alone: I remember a compelling movie in college that convinced me for a time that Prince Charles could be the antichrist.
How can we possibly think that baseless attacks on real people is what love looks like? Or what joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control looks like?
I don’t know how we got so messed up on this one. Lying does not honor God. Slander does not honor God. Posting a link or sending an email that has no factual basis does not honor God.
It’s time to exchange the impassioned rhetoric for wise discourse. So as the election season really ramps up this fall, let’s apply these 3 simple rules:
- If you wouldn’t say it about someone you do know, don’t say it about someone you don’t know.
- Value your own integrity by taking the time to research it before you post it.
- If you can’t prove it, don’t send it, don’t like it, don’t share it.
Don’t wait until Nov 6th to bring your faith to bear on politics. Do it every single day.